Name Meatball Minestrone


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* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 onions, chopped
* 4 rashers of rindless streaky bacon, diced
* 175 g (6 oz) tomatoes, skinned and chopped
* 175 g (6 oz) dried haricot beans, soaked overnight and drained
* 1.8 litres (3 pints) water
* 1 teaspoon dried basil
* 2 carrots, diced
* 2 celery sticks, chopped
* 250 g (8 oz) cabbage, shredded
* salt and freshly ground black pepper

* 500 g (1 lb) lean minced beef
* 2 tablespoons fresh white breadcrumbs
* 1 small onion, finery chopped
* 1 teaspoon powdered thyme
* 1 egg, beaten
* salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
* 1 tablespoon tomato puree
* finely grated Parmesan cheese
* French bread

1. Heat the oil in a deep flameproof casserole. Add the onions and bacon and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and drained haricot beans and cover with the water. Stir in the basil and season to taste.
2. Cover with a lid or some foil and cook in a preheated oven, 160°C (325°F, Gas Mark 3, for 2 hours.
3. Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Mix together all the ingredients until well blended. Use floured hands to mould the mixture into about 50 tiny meatballs.
4. Add the carrots, celery, cabbage and meatballs to the casserole. Cook for 30 minutes until the vegetables and meatballs are cooked.
5. Stir in the tomato puree and 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan. Check the seasoning and serve with extra Parmesan and French bread.

Serves: 8

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